February 15, 2009

Oli Silk - The Limit's The Sky

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. There seems little doubt that writer, producer and keyboard player Oli Silk is fixed firmly on a fast track to contemporary jazz success. He was first noticed at Trippin N Rhythm in 2004 as the producer of the self titled album by British sax player James Vargas and his own 2006 solo debut on the same label, So Many Ways, proved to be an instant success. All the more remarkable for the fact that Silk is UK born and based, it garnered the massive radio hit ‘Easy Does It’ that hung around for more than six months on the chart of most played on smooth jazz radio across the USA. Now he is back with his brand new release The Limit’s The Sky and, with stellar backing from sax-men Garry Honor and Jaared, legendary bass player Dwayne ‘Smitty’ Smith and guitarist Matt Park, he clearly has another winner on his hands.

The funky tight and rhythmic title cut features the excellent Jaared and is replete with Silk’s distinctive production touches. In fact Jaared can be heard on four of the ten choice tunes and is back to lend a hand for ‘S.O.S.O.S!’ With Silk on piano very much in Brian Simpson mode, and Dwayne ‘Smitty’ Smith his usual colossal self; this smoothly jazzy number checks all the right boxes. ‘That Kinda Love’ proves to be a stunning slice of cool urban jazz for which Donnell Spencer on lead vocals is outstanding and wonderfully backed by Shannelle Solomon and Donnell Spencer Jr. Silk retains a decidedly chilled out disposition for the appropriately titled ‘De-Stress Signal’. A tune to calm the most savage of moods it provides another opportunity for Jaared to shine and his final contribution helps lift the melodic yet jazz infused ‘Lime Cordial Soup’ to another place.

The only track not written or co-written by Silk is the sensational Jeff Lorber composition ‘Seventh Heaven’. As catchy as they come, this one is seriously addictive and although ‘Get It Together’ is groovily whimsical it’s the minimalist vocals of Silk and Kathryn Page that add a wow factor to ‘This Was Then, That Is Now’. A track which is funky in an electronica sort of a way it features a rocking guitar solo from Matt Park that is right on the money. Clearly one of the album's standout cuts, the tune is matched every step of the way by ‘Chill Or Be Chilled’ where Silk’s mellifluous playing is front back and centre. With a splash of mellow sax from Gary Honor and more great bass from Smith this is an absolute real gem. However, that said, a real Secret Garden favourite is the wonderful ‘Solarity’. Honor (who originally caught the eye when winning an onboard talent contest as part of the Warren Hill Smooth Jazz Cruise) again makes a telling contribution and Silk’s chilled out playing is out of this world.

The Limit’s The Sky is a breathtaking collection and comes highly recommended. For more go to www.olisilk.com

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at February 15, 2009 12:19 PM